Wednesday, February 11, 2009
MALAYSIAN PALM GARDENS
A PROPOSAL FOR A PALM GARDEN IN MALAYSIA( For many years I was interested in Palms. It all started when I was studying in Germany and visited the Palmen Garten and to my surprise they were so many palms from Malaysia planted in the gardens. I wrote a book “Palma Pilihan Untuk Seni Taman” And I started collecting palms to establish a palm garden on the campus of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Unfortunately most of palms cut down when I retired from the University.)Introduction Palm manifests itself in more than two thousand species and of all the land plants it is the most distinguished. It suffers no attrition through ramification. In all the warmer parts of the earth this form stamps itself in grand simplicity on the landscape. The present distribution of palms resembles an immense chessboard on which we see the last moves of a great game of life. The kings and queens are Malaysian and Amazonian. The palms are as old, if not older, than any other form of flowering plants and in all dating back 120 million years ago. They have endured while the rest have pressed forward into modern trees, climbers, herbs and grasses,ramified, extended, twisted and simplified.Malaysia is a Palm CountryMalaysia is a land of palms, from the graceful coconuts of the strand and the serried squat ranks the oil palm plantations to the giant fishtail palms of the hills and mountains. The rain forest undergrowth is crowded with many species of palms and others emerge from the forest canopy. There are palms to the tops of mountain, while others are in mangrove forests. Malaysia is one of the most richly endowed palm lands of the world.In Peninsula Malaysia there are about 194 indigenous species of palms in 31 genera of which 82 species and 1 genus are endemic. In Sabah there are about 131 species in 25 genera of which 12 species and 2 varieties are endemic. While Sarawak has more than 218 species under 25 genera and the endemism is relatively high, at least 56 species are endemic.Non-indigenous PalmsThere are many species of palms introduced to Malaysia. Apart from those species cultivated as ornamentals, six species are grown and enter into commerce.The oil palm and the coconut are grown on a plantation scale and have contributed to the Malaysian economy. The sago palm is locally important, while betel nut, salak and sugar palm are of minor important and are planted on a village scale.Most of the ornamental palms planted in major cities and gardens are introduced from other tropical countries.Conservation of Malaysian PalmsThough Malaysia is one of most richly endowed palms in the world, the indigenous species are neglected and many are considered as endangered species. Our National Parks, such as the Taman Negara and the Endau Rompin State Forest Park have an important role to play in providing a refuge for our palms. In Taman Negara there are about a third of Peninsula’s palm flora being conserved. There are about 70 species in 22 genera and of these 14 species are endemic to Peninsula. The only endemic specie to the National Park and the much sought after is the Livistona tahanesisIn the Endau-Rompin Forest Park, there are about 71 species in 21 genera. Of these 24 species are endemic to Peninsula Malaysia. The much sought after is the Licuala endauensis endemic to the Endau area in Johore where it forms fan palm forest.Though the National Parks and Wildlife Reserves have legal protection but they are not always well patrolled and suffer various forms of damage such as logging, conversion to other purposes and threat from commercial palm hunters. For example, Johannesteijsmannia magnifica. J. perakensis, J. lanceolata, J. altifrons, Livistona tahanesis, Livistonia endauensis, Maxburretua rupicola, are being sought after by international commercial palm hunters.On the positive side, however, the palm hunters play an important role in conservation of Malaysian flora. In most well known tropical Botanical gardens, Malaysian flora including palms are well conserved there. The irony is that Malaysian commercial nurseries could easily import these plant species from international growers for our parks and gardens development.Malaysian Ecosystem Support the Assemblage of world PalmsThe climate of the Peninsula Malaysia is equatorial with the average annual rainfall ranging from 2,500mm in drier locations to 4000mm on the east coast which experiences monsoon rain. Relative humidity ranges from 55 – 70 percent during the day and is usually above 95 percent at night. The mean annual temperature is 26.7 degree C, the different between monthly maximums and minimums is 3.3 degree C. The soil is heavily weathered and predominantly lateritic. Sedimentary soil make up most of the coastal plains, though there are also some limestone outcropsPeninsula Malaysia falls within the Malesian floristic region and shows closes affinity with the floras of Borneo and Sumatra. The natural vegetation is tropical rain forest. The dominant forest type is the dipterocarp. The great majority of the palm species are growing in this dipterocarp forest.The Malaysian climate and its ecosystem are the factors that make Malaysia rich in palms. These factors also support diverse assemblage of palms introduced from all over the world. For example the oil palm dominates the Malaysian landscape and now considered as the largest oil palm plantation in world. About 99% of the ornamental palms planted in our major cities, gardens and theme parks are dominated by introduced species from South America, Africa and other tropical countries.Palm World ConceptMalaysia has a vast potential to become the center and assemblage of palms from all over the world. We propose to call this palm center, Palmarum Malaysiana.or Taman Palma Malaysia. Under the concept, the palms will be planted in accordance to systematic botany as classified by Dransfield and Uhl (1987).Justification to Establish Malaysian Palm Gardens ( Palmarum Malasiana )Conservation PolicyThe proposed Malaysian Palm Garden has an important role to play in providing a refuge for the genetic diversity of Malaysian palms. Out of 194 species of palms in Peninsular Malaysia, 23 species are considered as endangered, 60 vulnerable that are likely to become endangered, 86 vulnerable, 16 rare and only 10 are not threatened.The conservation status of palms in Sabah is hardly known. Of the131 species, 113 as classified as unknown. Only 10 species are classified asnot threatened. While the Sarawak conservation status of palms, as up to 1989, out of 218 species, 30 are endangered, 65 vulnerable, 26 rare, 4 indeterminate, 75 unknown and only 18 are not threatened.Ethno botany of PalmsThe tropical equatorial rain forest is the center of human civilizations based on palms. The flourish wealth of species with commercial value as well as those used in every respect of village life - for food, building materials, for weaving, medicine and cultural ceremonies. We just could not imagine the difficulties of various ethnic groups in the beginning of civilization, even to the modern days, without the presence of palms in forest. It is very urgent to record the ethno botanical information on palms from the various ethnic groups in Malaysia.The roles and functions of the Taman Palma Malaysia, not only to record the ethno botanical information but also to establish Malaysian antiquity of living palms museum.ResearchThe palm flora of Malaysia is still not completely known to science and new species can still be found. The endemic, endangered, vulnerable and rare species can be conserved in the proposed Taman Palma Malaysia.The family of palms is an important one. Its members include major tropical crops plants and many species of commercial value in horticulture while some find enormous diversified uses in economy, such as the oil palm, coconut and sago. The Malaysian palms have vast potentials to be exploited as ornamentals palms.Palms are major interest scientifically because they serve as useful models in many disciplines - ecology, demography, anatomy, morphology, biomechanics - and they are likely to become increasingly valuable as study objects in the fields of plant morphogenesis and physiology. Palms also provide good examples for the study of evolutionary processes in plant kingdom. As an exemplary group, palms need to be known as precisely as possible at the taxonomic level because systemic biology is the foundation for all other biological disciplines.Tourism DestinationPalmarum Malaysiana will become a major tourist destination. The assemblage of palms from all over the world will attract not only local tourists but also tourists from all over world. As a palm world center, it is not limited to recreational, but also as a “laboratory” for international educational program.Proposed Site for Palmarum MalaysianaI made several proposal sites for palm gardens, including the east corner of Precinct 19, Pustrajaya ( neighbouring the Kg Limau Manis ). The site occupies an approximate area of 41.2 ha. based on the latest site boundary.The overall topography of the area consists of two hillocks with an elevation of more than 40 - 100 m above sea level. The hillocks occupy the central portion of the site and there are slopes on all boundaries with an elevation 40 – 100 m above sea level. The undulating surface of the site, valleys and hillocks, together with the type soils are factors that make the establishment of palm garden possible.The latest proposal site I made was the Mont Kiara. This is most suitable site for World Palm Collections, but the Malaysia Nature Society prefers to grow trees or arboretum just like the Rimba Alam in Putrajaya.
Posted by Ismail Saidin at 11:47 PM 0 comments